“I’m humbled and encouraged.”
I don’t know how many times I said it walking out the door. The people around me were probably sick of hearing it, but that’s exactly what I was (and am): humbled and encouraged.
Annie and I had the opportunity tonight to go to Dr. Hollinger’s and meet other students who are new to Gordon Conwell. Coming in the door, we were thinking about when to arrive and what to wear and how to come across, but by the time we departed we were simply marveling at the remarkable people with whom God has blessed the Church.
We met a couple who had been imprisoned for Jesus, a lady who wants to work with inner city teenagers, a pastor from Kenya, a Bible translator, counselors, missionaries; the list seemed to go on an on. Some laughed about their persecution; others wept out of gratefulness for our Savior. What a blessed evening!
On our trip home, I was struck by the incredible diversity of the church. Not only do we come from a range of cultures, locales, and perspectives, we are also headed out to just as many contexts and ministries. The best illustration I can think of is the intersection at the top of a teepee, that brief space where a number of poles come together before branching out in just as many unseen directions. Seminary is an amazing intersection of brothers and sisters, from hundreds of pasts going to hundreds of futures. For these few years, we meet together around the Word of God.
However, our diversity does not end with our features and experiences; it extends, deep within us, to our personalities, gifts, and desires. I often wonder why anyone wants to do anything other than preach (especially anyone getting an M.Div.), but as each person shared his or her vision for the future, I could only “amen” each dream. Yes, you must teach the Old Testament. Yes, you must go back and correct heresy in your native country. Yes, you must become a hospice chaplain.
We should expect no less, considering the vastness of the Father who made us, the vivacity of the Spirit who indwells us, and the significance of the Christ who we embody in the world. Peter, in fact, commands us to live out of and into this God-given variety when he writes, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”
So let us, dear friends, celebrate God’s various gifts. Let us surround ourselves with his diverse church, that we might be humbled and inspired. Finally, let us develop, practice, and leverage the skills, opportunities, and desires God has given us, that while our generation carries this torch, the Church might duly embody Christ.